Nocturnal Transgressions: Nighttime Stories from Berlin, the New European Nightlife Capital

Oktay, Enis. 2015. Nocturnal Transgressions: Nighttime Stories from Berlin, the New European Nightlife Capital. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Throughout history, nighttime has been considered by many to be antithetical to daytime; it has been regarded as a notorious interval, enabling and characterized by transgression. With the birth of the metropolis and the commercialization of nocturnal activities, nighttime – no longer considered daytime’s complete negation but rather rendered partially heterogeneous and acceptably infamous – has been blessed with its own economy and politics as well as its unique social and cultural dynamics. The urban night, as it were, has a life of its own. Indeed, nightlife is marked by the promise of seduction and eventfulness as well as by the pursuit of ecstatic fraternity with likeminded strangers resulting in self-loss and rediscovery. Therein lies its potential for transgression retained by urbanity. But therein also lies the potential for spectacle as well as the incentive for institutionalizing transgression, thereby taming it and generating profit. Using the city of Berlin as a case example, the thesis explores how this nocturnal duality manifests itself in the late capitalist metropolis. As Berlin has recently become the number one nightlife destination in Europe as well as a neo-bohemia harboring numerous privileged migrants (in terms of various types of capital as well as the right to mobility) linked with the creative industries and the arts; various historical, cultural, economic and socio-political factors have come into play in generating Berlin’s nocturnal libertarianism which is perceived by many to be exceptional in its aptness for (institutionalized) transgression. The thesis reveals by way of ethnographic evidence how these factors have come into play in creating the relatively exceptional and debatably trangressive realm that constitutes the Berlin night. This is supplemented by the additional ethnographic goal of critically assessing the subversive potential – or the lack thereof – pertaining to these nocturnal events. Within this context, the repercussions and politics of the Berlin night are further explored. Finally, the dissertation seeks to employ continental philosophy and critical theory to make sense of the self-loss and ecstatic fraternity associated with certain instances of (institutionalized) nocturnal transgression as well as to explore the nightly potential for resisting the spectacle.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Berlin, nightlife, transgression, anti-capitalism, nighttime economy, gentrification, creative industries, continental philosophy, post-structuralist thought

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Centre for Cultural Studies (1998-2017)


31 March 2015

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

22 Apr 2015 16:33

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 09:09


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